10 questions to ask before hiring a babysitter

Hiring a babysitter is an important decision. Obviously, you won’t want to leave your kids with just anyone. Often, the most available babysitters are young teenage girls, though teenage boys babysit on occasion, as well.

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  • Hiring a babysitter is an important decision. Obviously, you won’t want to leave your kids with just anyone. Often, the most available babysitters are young teenage girls, though teenage boys babysit on occasion, as well. You may also consider asking friends or family to babysit, just be careful not to take advantage of that relationship.

  • When considering whether to hire someone to babysit, you’ll want to know what kind of experience they have working with kids, how they react in emergency situations, and how well they handle stress. The following are some questions to help you discern what kind of babysitter your candidate might be. Keep in mind, a negative answer to any of these questions should not automatically disqualify the person as a babysitter. It just allows you to get to know them and their personality a little better.

  • How long have you been babysitting?

  • If you have challenging kids or a very young infant, you might want a babysitter who has had more experience.

  • Do you have any younger siblings?

  • This will just give you an idea of how comfortable they might be around young children. An only child or the youngest sibling won’t have been raised around babies as much as an older sibling.

  • Do you know CPR?

  • This is an important skill that some parents require their babysitters to have before they consider hiring them. However, it’s not altogether common to run across babysitters who are CPR certified so you may consider settling with someone who at least knows what it is and how to recognize a situation where it is needed.

  • Do you know the Heimlich maneuver?

  • Similar to CPR, you may or may not disqualify someone for not knowing the Heimlich maneuver (the movement used to dislodge something from a choking person’s airway). They should, however, know what it is and if they can’t do it themselves, you may want to provide them with a list of close neighbors who can be phoned and asked to administer it should the occasion arise.

  • What do you enjoy most about babysitting?

  • If this is a hard question for them to answer, you may want to think twice about hiring them. That is unless there are so many reasons they enjoy it, they can’t pick which one with which to start.

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  • What would you do should an emergency situation arise while you were babysitting?

  • The answer to this question will give you an idea of how calm the babysitter remains under pressure (asking these questions rapid-fire should give you a similar read on their personality).

  • Do you know how to operate a fire extinguisher?

  • If they don’t, it’s easy enough to show them. Also let them know you don’t expect them to deal with fires themselves — calling the fire department is still the best choice.

  • How comfortable are you with changing diapers?

  • It’s okay if they say they don’t enjoy it; it’s most important that they know how and can do so when needed.

  • What are some things you would do to stop a baby from crying?

  • More experienced babysitters should have a list of easy answers to this question. You may have to provide some suggestions to babysitter beginners. It’s always a good idea to let the babysitter know what strategies work best with your child.

  • What do you think is the best way to discipline a misbehaving child?

  • If the first thing they come up with is to spank the child, this may not be the babysitter for you. Of course, since every parent employs different disciplining techniques, you’ll want to let the babysitter know your style.

  • There’s no such thing as the perfect babysitter and some babysitters will work great with some families and not so well with others. The best thing is to find someone whose childcare philosophies match best with yours. Asking these 10 questions should give you a good idea if you have found a match.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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